A Peek at Thanksgiving in the Meals on Wheels Kitchen
For most, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for family is challenging enough. Can you imagine carving 45 turkeys? Or harvesting 150 pounds of beets? For Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers, cooking 250 meals for Bennington County’s seniors is all in a day’s work.
“After carving 45 turkeys last year, I never wanted to see another turkey again,” recalled Scott Hutton, a Meals on Wheels Board member. Last year, he helped volunteers to prepare the Thanksgiving meal led by Norman Levitz, a professional chef. Volunteers and staff turned the Bennington Meals on Wheels kitchen into something resembling the kitchen of a 4-star restaurant. “We’re determined to feed our clients delicious fresh, unprocessed food every day,” notes executive director Susan Fox, who organizes celebrations for holidays big and small at the four meal sites in Manchester, Arlington, Bennington and Stamford. Many seniors are homebound and depend on daily delivery of a hot meal from Meals on Wheels. For some, it’s their only hot meal of the day and their only chance to visit with a friendly face. Thanksgiving is no exception. This year, the Food Bank, which donates much of the Meals on Wheels food throughout the year, did not have turkeys to donate, so Meals on Wheels negotiated a reduced rate, purchasing nearly 50 turkeys for less than $1 a pound. They will prepare nearly 300 meals for this year’s Thanksgiving meal, to be delivered to homebound seniors in Bennington County on Wednesday, November 27.
Roughly 50,000 meals were served in Bennington County last year, up nearly 25% from the year before. Government funding covers about half the cost of the meals, so private donations large and small, are crucial. If successful, the fund drive currently underway will feed all local seniors who qualify. Local bakers, grocers, gardeners and farmers also generously donate food.Volunteers are needed all year, especially during the holidays. Some volunteers help with food preparation, and some assist the drivers as they deliver food to homebound seniors. Still others coordinate donations from the Food Bank or help out in the meal sites. To volunteer or make a donation, stop by the Meals on Wheels office at 124 Pleasant Street in Bennington, Vt. or call 802-442-8012.